Whew! You made it through the job interview.
The interview seemed to go very well.
They seemed to like you, and you liked them and the job.
You had everyone’s contact information, and you immediately sent your thank you messages. (Right?!)
But, they haven’t called you (yet!) to schedule the next appointment or to offer you the job.
The recruiter/HR person/hiring manager said they would make a decision before the end of last week. Or by the middle of last week. Or before the end of last month. Or some other time in the past.
Their own deadline has passed — maybe days or weeks (even months) ago. But, you haven’t heard from them. And, you may never hear from them. Or, you may hear from them tomorrow…
When They Don’t Call Back When They Said They Would
Do not assume that you did not get the job!
At least, don’t assume it, yet.
Often, the hiring process must take a back seat to other more urgent matters, like staying in business – handling crises, taking vacations, staying home sick, traveling on business, being promoted, leaving the organization, etc.
Or, another candidate has appeared who must be interviewed before they get back to you. Or someone high up in the organization has decided that NOW is the time to re-organize. Or, the job was cancelled. Or, …
Do not “pause” your job search while you wait for an answer.
Keep your job search momentum rolling. Until you hold a job offer (with the right job title, salary, and start date) in your hand, you do not have a new job. Yet.
Do not assume that no news is bad news for your job search!
You will probably not be told what happened, but don’t give up on an opportunity too soon. Employers almost always need more time to fill a job than they believe they will. Particularly if it has only been few days or a couple of weeks past the date the employer said they’d get back to you, don’t give up on the job. Yet!
10 Things That Could Be Happening While You Wait
While this job interview is the biggest thing on your mind right now, the people who interviewed you have “real jobs” that they are doing. And, their jobs are usually their highest priorities. Interviewing job candidates usually falls under the heading of “other duties as required” for most of the people involved.
Job seekers always seem to assume that the process works perfectly and smoothly on the employer’s side. But, speaking as someone who has been on the “other side” of the process, that assumption is often totally wrong. The reason you haven’t heard from them may have very little to do with you.
Without intending, the employer’s plans for the timing of the next step in the hiring process are almost always too optimistic.
At the start of the process –
Many things can disrupt the schedule, particularly in large organizations.
1. Someone necessary to the process is missing.
Hiring someone usually involves more than one person, and someone necessary to the process might be missing — out of the office (vacation, illness, death in the family, business travel, fired or quit, etc.) or handling an emergency. Until that person is available, the process waits.
2. The other interviews are taking more time than expected.
Whether or not you were the first candidate interviewed, it may be a long wait. Interviews with other candidates are scheduled and re-scheduled as necessary people become available and unavailable (see #1).
3. They are getting ready for the next round.
Then, they may be scheduling a second (or third or fourth) round of interviews for the people who did well on the early round(s), after they determine who made it to the next round. And, figuring out who gets invited back is often a very complicated process involving meetings, discussions, email, and more meetings and discussions.
After a round (or two or three or more) of interviews –
If you have been through one or more rounds of interviews and are still waiting to hear, other things can get in the way:
4. They are working their process, tying up all the loose ends, checking off all the to-dos.
They are checking references and running background checks on all the finalists, and waiting for results before they make their decision.
5. Someone is missing, again.
Again, someone critical to the process may be unavailable, and nothing goes forward until they rejoin the process.
6. They may be restructuring the job.
Someone(s) is holding out for the “perfect candidate” (who did not apply), so they may be discussing re-posting the job or re-structuring it to fit the best candidate they have.
When it is finally time to make an offer –
They told you the interview process is complete — all drug tests, background checks, and everything else is done, and a decision will be made by last week (or even last month). But, it may still take longer because:
7. More missing decision-makers, higher up the chain.
Yet again, someone important in the decision-making may be out of the office or unavailable for some reason. The right people need to approve new hires, often in very specific order up the organization’s management chain, and decisions wait until the appropriate approval is received so the paperwork can passed on up to the next level.
8. Business has changed unexpectedly, and they are waiting for the dust to settle or adjusting to a new reality.
Perhaps budgets are being changed because of an unexpected drop in business and/or profits, and they won’t contact anyone until they know they can afford to fill the job. Maybe, the job will be changed to something that will be cheaper to fill.
Or, perhaps, business has improved, and them may be able to make multiple offers. Or, possibly, they are considering restructuring the job to a higher level now that they can afford it.
9. Definitely cancelling and restructuring that job. Probably… Maybe… Or, maybe NOT!
Again, they haven’t found the perfect candidate or there’s been a change in profits, so they are reconsidering the structure of the job. When they are done, it may be a perfect fit for you, or not. They won’t know until they’re done making the changes, and, of course, you won’t know until after they do.
Maybe they will decide, in the end, that it’s too time-consuming and expensive to re-post and go through the whole interviewing process again, so they will go with the best candidate they have now. Which could be you, IF you are still available (don’t wait, though!).
10. Waiting for a decision from candidate #1. You are candidate #2.
They could have offered the job to someone else and are waiting for that person to accept (or not). Or are in the process of negotiating the job offer with the person. It is not over until the person starts the job (sometimes not then, either). If that person does not accept the job — or does not stay in the job very long — you might well be next in line for the job!
Or, you may be completely out of the running, and they do not contact you because they do not have the time, technology, or manners required. Or they are afraid of getting sued.
Try not to assume the worst — or the best — until you know for sure, or until several months have passed with no word and no responses to your efforts to get an answer from them.
If it does not work out this time…
Perhaps you felt a “connection” with one or more of the people there and would be interested in that employer if another opportunity developed, ask those folks to connect on LinkedIn (what do you have to lose?), and stay in touch. If you would like another opportunity to work for them, send them a thank note for the opportunity to meet them and to learn more about the organization. This thank you note may put you at the top of the list for the next job.
If you worked with a recruiter, send the recruiter an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Most recruiters welcome all connections, and connecting with them makes you more visible to them and to the recruiters and employers they are connected to as well.
Staying in Touch After the Interview
Calling more than once a week is usually a VERY BAD idea!
Do not call more often than once every two weeks. That is usually best, particularly when you are working with busy people in a large organization.
Understand that everything you do throughout this process is viewed as a “sample” of what you would be like as an employee or co-worker. So, don’t establish a reputation for yourself as someone who is annoying and pushy.
A good technique for reminding them about your talent is to call the company and indicate you have been thinking more about the position and have some additional questions.
Do NOT call to ask how the decision process is going! Ask good questions, perhaps based on research about the organization, the products and/or services. Or questions that occurred to you after the interview.
Take this opportunity to showcase your skills, your interest in the opportunity, and to build rapport with the proper people. Note, too, that if they do not call you back, then you are probably NOT a contender.
Be Organized When You Contact Them
Phone calls are usually best because you can ask follow-up questions if necessary. Be polite and professional, not angry or annoyed.
Give your name, the job you interviewed for (by requisition number, if you have it, or by job title), the date and time of your interview, and the name(s) of the person (people) who interviewed you.
Then, assuming they don’t tell you that the job has been filled, ask these questions:
- Where they currently are in the hiring process?
- What the next steps are in the process?
- What timing they expect for those next steps?
- When you can expect to hear from them next?
- Who should you contact if you don’t hear from them after that next date (question above)?
These are the basic questions which should provide you with all of the information you need.
The Bottom Line
The job interviewing process usually takes more time than anyone wants or plans. Employers do frequently cancel jobs for many different reasons. They also hire other people. Avoid boxing yourself in or limiting your options by keeping your job search active until you have a job offer.
For More Information About What to Do After a Job Interview:
- After Your Interview, What Employers Talk About Behind Closed Doors
- The Waiting Game After the Interview – by recruiter Jeff Lipschultz
- Job Interview Follow-Up – the next step in the process
- Sending Your Thank You After the Job Interview
- After the Job Interview, What Is Taking So Long?
- Turning Rejection into Opportunity – IF you don’t get the job, but you did like the employer
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.
More about this author…